3. YHWH Nissi: The Ambush

Is Yahweh with us or not?

In the place where we hold on to the memories, and fret and complain about our process, we lose faith in the power of the One who delivered us with ‘a mighty hand and outstretched arm’. The people began to wonder, is Yahweh with us or not? Their doubt and fear became so loud that they began to imagine their demise. They voiced their fears in these words, “why did He deliver us, so that we could be killed in the desert” (Exodus 17:3). Why would He take them out of shackles, so that they could die of thirst? They quickly forgot the joy of their deliverance; why would the Elohim (God) who had just displayed power over water by parting the Red Sea and then closing it in time to swallow their enemies in its depths, not provide water to quench their thirst? The same Yahweh (God) who delivers is the same One who provides.

We too have a tendency to look at each new obstacle as if we are speaking to a different God, but Yahweh is the same forever, unchanging. Therefore, even though we may not see the things that we need right in front of our eyes, our first response need not be panic and complaints. When we are broke and unemployed for a season, or when we are lonely and not dating or seeing any prospects, our response should not be to complain and to argue the benefits of our former lives, thinking about returning. The Creator of the dry places also creates water, therefore, instead of looking back, look to Him. Tell Him and expect Him to provide. If we could see everything we needed in front of us, we would never learn to trust Yahweh. If you were never diagnosed with cancer, you would never know that that He heals cancer; you would have limited His healing power to headaches and the flu. But He is allowing us to experience Him as “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) present and powerful in every circumstance. He does surgeries without scalpels; He inspires entrepreneurial ideas and takes us from financial deficit to abundance. He is the great I AM, Yahweh!

If we could only let go of our memories long enough to see the blessings ahead of us, we would press forward. We must keep the vision in front of our eyes, at the forefront of our minds, and we will be able to overcome the doubt and fear that causes us to question His presence with us, and His ability to keep His word. Because in this place of doubt, in the space where we are inclined to look back, this is the time the enemy sets up an ambush.

An ambush is a sneaky, unexpected attack. The enemy always tries to ensnare us when we are going from one level to the next. Israel had just two chapters before this one, put on a loud display of praise for the crossing of the Red Sea. They danced and sang and rejoiced. Sometimes after we have moved out of our place of bondage, and after we have rejoiced for deliverance, the enemy attacks…because we are still vulnerable. It is still new territory, and he is sure that if he can distract and attack us in this moment, he may find us unawares. After the initial joy there may be some doubt as to the next steps. I’ll tell you this, if you want to give the enemy a window or a small entryway, start dwelling in doubt. We are at our most vulnerable when we question Yahweh’s love for us and question His ability to deliver us and transport us into the promise. It is at these moments that the enemy will try to confirm our fears and doubts with lies, convincing lies that seem to have supporting evidence because of the circumstances by which we are surrounded.

Yahweh deliberately did not take Israel through what is considered, the shorter, more direct route to Canaan because He did not want them to be turned off by the amount of opposition they would face. The more direct route was more populated and the people in the lands they would walk through, were cantankerous and Yahweh said I am going to spare them some opposition because, as he puts in Exodus 13:17(NIV) “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt”. The possibility of war was enough to make them faint and become weak. If we told new believers that they are going to be attacked just because they now belong to Yahweh, they probably wouldn’t bother to start the journey. But we do not have to become fearful and faint at the threat of opposition because the Psalmist says, Yahweh of hosts is “mighty in battle” (Psalm 24); Psalm 27:1Yahweh (the Lord) is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Yahweh (the Lord) is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Attacking the stragglers – attacked when tired and weary

The bible says they ambushed them from behind; the stragglers and the rear ranks, those who had become weak and tired and were lagging behind the larger group (Deuteronomy 25:18). The stragglers may be a good characterization of the weaknesses in us that have difficulty keeping up on our road to freedom; these are the things that slow down our progress in our journey from one level to the next. The enemy is very aware of what is effective in slowing down our progress in the process: it may be the bombarding thoughts not yet under control, or the inability to resist giving a sharp retort to every perceived threat – an untamed tongue. The apostle Paul calls these stragglers, “the weight and the sin that so easily beset us” (Hebrews 12:1). In an ambush, the attackers usually lie-in-wait at a strategic point, a vulnerable point; so when we are down, in doubt, and struggling with our weakness, ambushes are set for us. A surprise attack may come in the form of suicidal thoughts to someone who normally is very optimistic and enthusiastic about life; suddenly under the pressure of their circumstance, they are bombarded with thoughts of death and their days are overcast with reasons why life isn’t worth living. This kind of attack can throw us off our path and cause us to lose ground, but ultimately, our Father is aware of these attacks and He responds in these times as well. He fights for us!

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